Lotfi Jormana Group – The Music of Islam Vol 8 – Folkloric Music Of Tunisia (1997)

FrontCover1Ten years in the making, The Music of Islam series recorded in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran and Qatar represents the most comprehensive sound documentation available to Westerners today, of a world religion dating back to 1/622. Although governed by strict rules for fourteen centuries, contact with other cultures has radically affected Islamic music throughout history. As the world enters the XV/21st century the timing of this collection serves an even larger purpose, documenting the traditions that have survived and will continue to survive for centuries to come. Today, one fifth of the world’s population, one billion people, are Muslims, occupying a large territory stretching from the Atlantic shore of north and west Africa, through west, central, and south Asia to island southeast Asia, and attracting an increasing following in India, western Europe, north America, east Asia, and southern Africa. This is a global presence which cannot be ignored.

According to producer David Parsons this volume was the most difficult in the series, both technically and information-wise. “It was a classic case of trying to record, with one stereo microphone, a group of singers who also played drums”, exclaims Parsons. Yet, however technically challenging it may have been, the end result is nonetheless superb. Two of the most beautiful songs (tracks 2 and 7) on the recording feature the mawwal – a vocal form which usually follows the performance of the layali – vocal improvisations. The form was known as early as the III/9th century where it was described in connection with the working class. Also featured is a modern composition (a rarity in this series) by group leader and vocalist, Lotfi Jormana. As in traditional music, the melodic component of this song is shaped by the concept of maqam – or mode – which governs the construction of melodic phrases, standard melodic formulae, cadential patterns, and vocal range.

Recorded in a house in the medina, the old quarter of the city of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, this volume features the traditional instruments and songs of the folkloric music of Tunisia which thrive as a living testament to the wide spectrum of cultures and practices across the World of Islam.


Performed by the Lotfi Jormana Group, this volume features the melodic mizwid – Tunisian bagpipe played in the central regions of Tunisia accompanied by percussion. The mizwid has two melody pipes and no drone pipes. In instrumental music the long flowing melodies of the mizwid seem to soar above the pulse of the percussion group. In vocal music, the mizwid echoes, punctuates, and connects individual vocal phrases. (by amazon)


The mezwed (sounds a little bit like a scottish bagpipe)

North African Islamic music is generally a bit more rousing than other forms that are found in the Middle East proper, probably due to the extended distance from the seats of orthodoxy, which frown upon music in general (the same is true in the other direction — Pakistani Sufi music is also distant from the Middle East and far more rousing). Case in point here, Tunisian folkloric music. There’s extensive use made of a slinking melodic bagpipe to double up over the lead vocalist’s expertise. This is the music that people envision as filling the bazaars of any North African polis. For folks who are already in the know as to this type of music, this isn’t a bad item at all. For those who aren’t, it also wouldn’t be too bad of a place to start (though they should know that all Muslim music is certainly not like this). Also for those ones, a possible gain might be had in looking up some Gnawa ritual music, which holds some subtle similarities. (by Adam Greenberg)


Khaled Bekir (tambourine)
Fathi Bouguera (double-headed cylindrical drum)
Fathi Dahleb (circular framedrum)
Lotfi Jormana (vocals)
Hichem Sallemi (drum)
Abdessalem Zarga (mezwed)


Lotfi Jormana

01. Medley 7.22
02. Mawwal 1 4.34
03. Baba Salem 955
04. Leliri Ya Mana (Jormana) 4.12
05. Hay Leli Leli And Ala Bab Souika 10.50
06. El Guelb Ely Yehwek 7.03
07. Mawwal 2 3.47
08. Dhaouit Ayemek And Ma Indich Zahar 10.19
09. Nemdah Laktab 6.58